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From: "G.P." <G_Popper#NoSpam.Hotmail.Com>
Special Category: Top Reasons

Top Ten ways to get thrown out of chemistry lab

Copyright Brian Haddock Reeko's Mad Scientist Lab website, located at http://www.reekoscience.com .

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Health Watch: The graduate student's guide to self-diagnosis and treatment.
(The 3 a.m. version)

It is not unusual for a grad student to feel strains and stresses in the
body during late night lab marathons.  In spite of this fact, there is an
appalling shortage of health clinics open at the hour that these symptoms
usually begin to manifest.  In recognition of this deficiency, this
`how-to' list has been compiled to aid the graduate student in this time of

Symptom         Probable cause               Treatment(*)
=======         ==============               =========

Aching legs     Frequent trips to            Move the equipment into
                not-so-near neighbouring     the lab you are working
                labs to use equipments not   in.  Those with a sense of
                found in your own.           humor can try asking their
                                             P.I.'s to buy them their
                                             own equipment.

Burning         Eyeballs attempting to       Confine all gel destaining
sensation in    crawl out of your sockets    practices to your boss's
eyes            in a bid to escape chronic   office. (Fumehood?!  We
                exposure to acetic           don't need no stinkin'
                acid/methanol vapours that   fumehood!)
                have equilibrated with the
                lab's already volatile

Inability to    Neck injury incurred while   Accept as a fact that the
turn head       trying to simultaneously     moment your back is
                watch column not run dry     turned, the column will
                while playing ``Cat          run dry on you anyway.
                Shaver'' on the computer.    Enjoy your game.

Burning         Unsafe use of ethanol        Visit your local burger
sensation on    during flame                 joint and beg for a
head (usually   sterilization.               hairnet donation.  (This
preceded by                                  presumes that you don't
the crisp                                    work there part-time to
scent of                                     make up the balance of
melting hair)                                your salary, in which case
                                             you should already have
                                             your own hairnet.)

Lightheaded     Sleep deprivation.           Practice performing simple
giddiness                                    lab techniques while
                                             sleeping.  You can pipett
                                             water instead of chemical
                                             to start with.  Soon you
                                             will find yourself able t
                                             catch up on your sleep
                                             while doing that
                                             all-important mini-prep o
                                             western blot!  (This
                                             suggestion strongly
                                             endorsed by the
                                             inexhaustable Dr. Kay.)

Lower back      Centrifuge rotors            Take sample with you on
pain                                         any one of the numerous
                                             spinning rides at the
                                             amusement park and hold
                                             the tube away from the
                                             center of rotation as far
                                             as possible.  Ride for 3
                                             hours or until nausea

(*)Suitable replacement for all suggested treatments is to go home already!

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From: "THE BIG PIG" <kcds1#NoSpam.Juno.com>
Q: What's the most important thing to learn in chemistry?
A: Never lick the spoon.

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From: kkociba#NoSpam.magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Keith J Kociba)

Chemists are the *cleanest* people you'll ever meet...
they wash their hands even *before* they go to the restroom!

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From: jpauer#NoSpam.mtu.edu (JAMES PAUER)

First law of Laboratorics: Hot glass and cold glass look alike!

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From: MOHAMMED CHUNGGAZE <m.chunggaze#NoSpam.ic.ac.uk>
I was helping out in a first year undergraduate practical class when i came
across a girl who i thought maybe washing Potassium Bromide plates under the
tap. i said to her

'i hope you are not washing those plates under the tap'

she replied:  'NO..i,m using distilled water' !!!!

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From: "Opel, Kerry" <kopel#NoSpam.y-city.net>
In chemistry lab, one of my students accidentally hooked up her bunsen
burner to the water line instead of the gas line.  She didn't realize it,
of course, until she turned it on.

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From: Hmiddstaf#NoSpam.aol.com
During grammar school science experiements into properties of different

The residue of each test was tipped down the sinks, which were grouped in
threes.  There were no U-bends, but each group of sinks emptied into a single
box, which overflowed into the mains sewers.  Presumably this was intended to
retain things like droplets of mercury, which was not banned from use when I
was 16.

During the session, my bunsen went out, so I re-lit it with a splint lit from
the teacher's bunsen.  For safety's sake (!) I dropped the burning splint
into the sink, intending to extinguish it with water, instead of waving it
around in the alcohol fumes.  A small blue flame disappeared down the
plughole.  Hum, thinks I, I wonder where that's going?

I opened the cupboard 'neath the sink, only to find the drain box, full of
alcohol, a roaring mass of flame.  Shutting the doors, I called out, "Er,
Sir..." just as the inch-thick wooden lids blew off the adjacent un-used
sinks.  Fortunately, the back-blast extinguished the flames under the
cupboard, so the box only sagged slightly!

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From: ol3#NoSpam.webtv.net (Oscar Lanzi III)

Proof that chemistry and computer programming should never be mixed

When I was in grad school, a classmate and I decided that a very dirty
computer keyboard needed cleaning.  We figured that water would be
dangerous to the electical circuitry, so we elected to clean the
keyboard with acetone.

We were right; the electrical circuitry survived just fine.  However,

The keyboard never had to be cleaned again.

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From: "Pavel Goudochnikov" <ear9pg#NoSpam.leeds.ac.uk>

I've had my fair share of lab disasters, most of them fairly
unimpressive. The one I am about to describe though was quality. I swear to
God, this is a true story.
We had a monday afternoon double hour and a half practical. On this
particular occasion we were oxidizing ethanol to ethanoic acid. If I
remember rightly you reflux it for twenty minutes with dilute HCl to get it
to go to an aldehyde and then bash it with conc. sulphuric and sodium
dichromate for another twenty minutes to make it go the rest of the way.
Anyhow, there I was carefully following the instructions in the textbook. I
got as far as the aldehyde. At this point the book said "Add 5g [or
something like that] of Na2Cr2O7." I did that. Then it said "Now using a
dropper pippette add 10ml of conc. sulphuric acid..." I did that. Then I
read the rest of the line, and it said: "CAREFULLY, drop by drop over 10
minutes." I lifted my heead to see evil looking bubbles spewing forth from
my pear-shaped flask beneath a growing tower of thick orange fumes. It
looked like something off the set for Jeckyll and Hyde. I have to confess,
I was quite pleased with myself.

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From: Dixon-Jackson Kevin LE GB <kevin.dixon-jackson#NoSpam.cibasc.com>

One of my fun moments was during Organic Spot Tests.
Following sodium fusion (one of the most lethal lab procedures known to man)
the young Prof asked a struggling student
"Have you found anything yet?"
Glamorous student "Erm... er...I...er... Its nearly Chlorine!"
Prof "Don't be silly. It can't be NEARLY chlorine, that's like
being...being... nearly pregnant, you can't be nearly pregnant!"
Glamorous One "You don't get around much, do you!" 
Muffled sniggers all round.

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From: "Lotorto" <lotorto#NoSpam.ptd.net>

I must say, the hardest I have ever laughed was in honors chem class in
10th grade during a lab...
I will start by telling you that my high school chem lab is probably one of
the oldest and worn out rooms that have ever existed...I say this because
if it was any older it would have fallen apart....and my chemistry teacher
wasn't much younger than the room either.
So we were progressing on a lab which consisted of determining the specifc
heat of aluminum and we were using the ancient sinks that were fixed in the
room. There was this kid in my class, a genius, who was the funniest
looking kid I've ever seen...he had a thick unibrow and he was really
hairy...but anyways...we were using the sinks to fill beakers of
water...and the kid was at one of the sinks that were a little
"leaky". Every time you used it, it would spray out the side a little. Well
I guess this time it sprayed a little more than usual and the kid thought
that he should fix it instead of just using a different sink. He turned the
base of the sink thinking that he would tighten it...instead it started to
spray out more. Meanwhile my chem teacher, a silly old lady, yelled
"Steven! turn the sink off! Its making a mess!" And so Steven, the kid,
turned the base of the faucet back to how it was and it broke off in his
hand. I looked over from across the room after I had heard the following:
SNAP..."Steven! What did you do?!"..."Oh crap!"...SPLAAASH...

Our chem room was temporarily turned into a water park...in place of where
the sink was...there was now a large column of water shooting through the
ceiling and spraying all over the entire room...the water was getting all
over the hot plates that we were using in the lab and steam was rising all
over the place...everyone ran back to our math class in a comical
panic....and then five minutes later after we had told the story to
everyone...my chem teacher came into the room soaking wet and with the
funniest look in her eye....she looked at Steven through her crooked
glasses and said "STEVEN? WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE SINK?"
That was the funniest thing I've ever seen.

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From: "Katrien De Gusseme" <katriendegusseme#NoSpam.hotmail.com>

When I was studying for chemical engineer in Ghent (Belgium), we had a lot
of Chinese PhD students. One of them was assisting in lab excersise we had
with the topic destillation. The prof actually did all the explanation on
how to operate the destillation column and the PhD student would assist
with the analytical part.

All went well (except maybe for the part where I burned my fingertips when
trying to take a sample from the top plate) en we headed upstairs where the
gaschromatograph was located. The PhD student listend to us explaining what
we want to analyse and all the time he was nodding his head and saying
"yes, yes, of course". Then he took our samples and disappeared. We waited
some minutes, then heard him say 'oh shit'.

The next thing we hear is the door being locked... nothing happens for
about an hour, then the guy returns and hands uf a few sheets with graphs
and numbers.

"No problems" he says and disappears again. We've never seen him again.....

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From: "Katrien De Gusseme" <katriendegusseme#NoSpam.hotmail.com>

                             Size does matter.

In my last year of chemical engineering we had a lab of analytical
techniques. Now, both my lab partner and I are very tall (I'm a woman and
1m80 tall, my lab partner is a 1m95 tall guy), and our lab assistant was a
woman of about 1m50. After the second class, she would bring a stool to
stand on whenever talking to us.

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From: Cameron Neylon (cam#NoSpam.gu.uwa.edu.au)

I think I can do better (and this is a true story)

Heard in an NMR room in third year chemistry laboratory:

"Is D2O flammable?"

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From Nancy Holland
How do you make ethyl fornicate?

With ethanol!

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